As we saw in his settings of Sappho at the Linbury earlier this year, Georg Friedrich Haas¹s music speaks to the heart not the head, and his new opera Morgen und Abend needs none of the fist-to-forehead philosophisings which fill the programme: it¹s a meditation on life as seen from beyond the grave, and it follows the free-associative rhythm of a dream. Richard Hudson¹s designs for Graham Vick¹s production suggest a conceptual-art installation, as a chair, a wardrobe, a door, a bed, and a rowing boat circle the stage at a glacial pace; everything including the characters is covered in dusty grey light.
Punctuated at the start by deafening percussion, the music dispenses its own kind of greyness, with a heavily muted orchestra and muffled offstage choir creating unisons and glissandi at an equally glacial pace, yet this gradually becomes pleasing to the ear. Vick¹s one (massive) directorial mistake is to deny the Austrian actor Klaus Maria Brandauer the necessary support of surtitles in a thirty-minute monologue in Becketian style: since much of that is inaudible over the music, the results are seriously alienating. But when the brilliant cast led by baritone Christoph Pohl breaks into song under Michael Boder¹s direction the dream acquires compelling momentum. The signs are that tickets aren¹t selling well: anyone wanting an operatic experience like no other should seize this chance.
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